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HK volunteers check in

ONE-HUNDRED Expo volunteers from Hong Kong have arrived in Shanghai and will report for work at the Expo site on Monday.

They are the first batch of overseas volunteers, soon to be followed by Japanese and other overseas Chinese volunteers.

The 100 people, aged 18 to 55, were selected from 1,000 applicants in Hong Kong after rounds of written tests and interviews.

"I hope that you will enhance your understanding of Shanghai, the motherland and the world during your service with the Expo Shanghai," Ma Chunlei, leader of the Expo volunteer recruitment team, said at a banquet yesterday to welcome the Hong Kong volunteers' arrival.

The HK volunteers will be split into three groups to work in the China Pavilion, the Hong Kong Pavilion and the Expo Axis from July 12 to July 23.

They are receiving training on a local campus and will have on-the-spot drills at the Expo site tomorrow.

Considering they may be unfamiliar with the city, Expo authorities have designated local volunteers to pair up with them to handle visitor questions such as traffic directions outside the site.

But the Hong Kong volunteers are expected to excel in other ways with their language and cultural skills.

Also, many of them have wide volunteer and social work experiences. About 30 percent of the group were volunteers in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

"My past volunteer experience teaches me patience and professionalism," said Stephen Huang, the oldest of the group.

As a staff member at Hong Kong University, he started to learn Mandarin after Hong Kong's return to China. He has visited the city twice and is a big fan of the Shanghai culture.

"Apart from Mandarin, I can speak Cantonese, English and German very well," he said. He worked as an usher in the Bird's Nest Stadium with his daughter in 2008.

But he expects more challenges in the Expo volunteer work, due to the hot weather and the greater number of visitors the group will deal with. "I lost three kilograms last time. I will surely lose more weight in Shanghai," he said.


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